By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
The Principal Investigator, TELA Maize Project, Professor Rabiu Adamu, and Head of the Project at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, has said that they will release high yielding, drought and pest resistant maize variety to farmers by the year 2022 to enhance food production in the country.
Profesor Rabi’u disclosed this during a visit on TELA Maize Project at Confined Field Trial at Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) farm in Zaria .
He said , TELA is an acronym which means total protection of the crops from fall army worm and stem borer.
According to him, the trial was carried out in partnership between the Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and Institute for Agricultural Research under the TELA Maize Project.
He said the project was an advanced use of technology for the production and improvement of productivity of maize in developing countries.
“TELA Maize Project is also important in alleviating drought and insect pests which are the two major constraints that are bedeviling maize production in the country”.
Adamu said it was a first attempt in the country to produce a maize variety that was resistant to insects, drought tolerant and high yielding variety and this improved variety could reach Nigerian farmers by 2022.
He said drought and insect pest particularly stem bora and fall army worm limits the productivity of maize.
He added that the project utilizes the latest technology in bio-technology for the improvement of the crop using the approach of genetic modification.
`we call you for the field visit at TELA Maize trial site so that you can see how science works. The materials we are going to show you today were breed to resist drought and stem borer.
“This two constraints if not checked, could result into 100 per cent of crop failure; particularly end of the season drought, there is need for us to come up with new varieties that can withstand the climate change we are experiencing.
“The raining reason is very unpredictable and sometimes it is short and maize requires good rains for it to give good yields,’’ he said.
The Principal Investigator therefore, said development of a maize that could resist drought and moisture stress would go a long way to boost production in the country.
He said before now, insect pests were not constraints to maize production in the country, the coming of this pest (stem bora and fall army warm) there was a need for the institute to have a variety that could withstand the challenges.
In his remarks, Prof. Muhammad-Faguji Ishiyaku, Director, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University Zaria said on the average, the institute comes up with a new technology that improves potential productivity of the agricultural system every year.
He noted that global warming and climate change are challenges for NIgeria’s agriculture which results into two environmental conditions characterized by either shortage of rainfall or excessive rainfall which leads to flooding.
He said drought and flooding have continuously created unbearable agricultural development problems. Therefore, the institute is committed to climate smart agriculture in Nigeria.
“For this reason, the institute is working to develop maize and sorghum varieties that can withstand flood to enhance national food security,’’ he said.
He added that the introduction of this improved maize variety would go a long way in making maize production cheaper in Nigeria.
He stresses that drought tolerant maize variety has the potentials of expanding maize production to marginal areas where rainfall is not so high.